Four typical thrillers centred on grim men expressing themselves through violence are offset by two thrillers in which strong women control events … through violence.
Sometimes the best movie experiences depend on knowing as little as possible about what you’re watching. This was certainly true recently when I discovered the work of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead in Arrow Video’s excellent two disk set of Resolution (2012) and The Endless (2017).
Imagination, if followed honestly, can easily trump coherence and plausibility; what matters is how sincerely a filmmaker follows the narrative ideas out of which a movie arises. Three relatively recent movies offer a great deal of pleasure as they disappear enthusiastically down their own respective rabbit holes.
Two Blu-ray releases from Indicator represent shifts occurring in American filmmaking at the end of the ’60s, with Don Siegel’s near-perfect heist movie Charley Varrick (1973) quietly trashing all the rules once imposed by the Production Code and Alan Arkin’s directorial debut with Jules Feiffer’s Little Murders (1971) offering an unsettling, blackly comic dissection of the violence at the heart of American society.
Criterion’s new Blu-ray of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death (1946) uses a 4K restoration by Sony from the original three-strip Technicolor negative and the film looks absolutely ravishing.
Recent viewing includes a range of genre titles, high and low-end, from Vinegar Syndrome and Arrow Video: serial killers, Japanese vampires, sewer-dwelling mutants, zombies and a schizophrenic woman struggling to maintain a tenuous hold on reality.
Criterion’s new Blu-ray of Victor Erice’s second feature, El Sur (1983), presents this exquisite depiction of childhood innocence and loss in a breathtakingly rich hi-def transfer, with excellent, informative supplements.
Recent Blu-ray editions from Indicator in the UK call attention to a couple of interesting but largely forgotten movies from the ’60s: Sidney Lumet’s John le Carre adaptation The Deadly Affair (1966) and Jack Gold’s The Reckoning.
Film history is full of lost movies and forgotten filmmakers, but the case of Sadao Yamanaka is one of the saddest; a brilliant director in 1930s Japan, he died young and all but three of his twenty-seven features are lost. The three that remain are all great works of narrative art.
Two recent Criterion releases, Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills (2012) and Graduation (2016), illustrate the richness of the Romanian New Wave; formally rich, morally complex, and dramatically powerful, they both look superb on Blu-ray and Criterion supplements them with substantial contextual material which reveal Mungiu to be one of the finest artists working in film today.